Heartworm Disease & Prevention

Videos

Below you will find heartworm videos from the heartworm society for your viewing.

www.heartwormsociety.org/images/video/Theres_No_Season_for_Heartworm.mp4 

www.heartwormsociety.org/images/video/The_Test_Your_Pet_Should_Take.mp4

www.heartwormsociety.org/images/video/Is_Your_Pet_Protected.mp4

www.heartwormsociety.org/images/video/The_Seven_Deadly_Truths_of_Heartworm_Disease_in_Cats.mp4

www.heartwormsociety.org/images/video/Do_Cats_Get_Heartworms.mp4


If your dog turns up positive 

Heartworm Treatment Guidelines for the Pet Owner

The American Heartworm Society recommends the following heartworm treatment protocol for dogs.
This method effectively eliminates most heartworm infections when closely followed by both you and
your veterinarian. The overall goals of treatment are to safely and successfully eliminate current adult and
immature heartworms, prevent new infections and minimize treatment related complications in your dog.
The recommended treatment consists of the 5 steps outlined below.


Initial Treatment (Day 0)
From the moment your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease your dog must be kept strictly confined! That means your dog should be restricted to a very small area at all times throughout the entire treatment period (the use of a small cage or crate may be necessary), and continuing for 6 to 8 weeks after the last injection of melarsomine (the drug that kills adult heartworms). To ensure exercise restriction, your dog must be kept on a leash when going outside. Your veterinarian will tell you when it is permissible
to gradually allow your dog to exercise again.  Your dog will be started on a once-monthly medication called a “preventive,” to kill immature  heartworms and prevent new infections from developing. You should continue to give it to your pet throughout treatment as well as for the rest of his/her life.  Your dog will also be given the antibioticdoxycycline or minocycline for 30 days. This
medication kills bacteria which live in the heartworms. These bacteria help the worms survive and reproduce. They also may cause
worsening inflammation when adult heartworms die. By giving this antibiotic prior to the medication that will kill your dog’s heartworms, we decrease the likelihood of complications from the treatment and optimize the chance for complete elimination
of the infection.


First Adulticide Treatment (Day 60)
Two months after starting heartworm preventive, you will need to bring your dog to the clinic for the first injection of melarsomine, the drug that  kills adult heartworms. Because complications can occur, your veterinarian might require your pet to stay in the clinic for observation. Upon discharge, your veterinarian may also prescribe prednisone or another anti-inflammatory medication for your dog to reduce side effects.


Second Adulticide Treatment (Day 90)
One month after the first injection, two additional injections of melarsomine must be given 24 hours apart. Once again, your dog may need to stay at the clinic during this treatment period. 



Your veterinarian will examine your dog to
determine his/her status following treatment.
This examination will include a careful physical
examination with an emphasis on the heart and
lungs as well as testing for circulating immature
stages of heartworm (microfilaria). This interim
assessment will help your veterinarian determine
when your pet can gradually resume more vigorous
physical activity. If microfilaria are still present,
your veterinarian may prescribe an additional
medication to help eliminate them and then retest
at Day 150 to assess effectiveness.

Final Assessment of Efficacy (Day 270)
Your veterinarian will test your dog’s blood to
assess the success of adulticide treatment. The
goal is to eliminate all stages of heartworms from
your dog.
Home Care – Your Responsibility

Throughout the recovery period, please watch
your pet for coughing, gagging, vomiting, diarrhea,
or loss of appetite. Excessive sluggishness,
respiratory distress, and coughing up blood are
signs of a serious problem that require immediate
veterinary attention.
The most important thing you can do to minimize
complications during treatment is to restrict
your pet’s exercise before, during and after the
melarsomine injections. When adult worms die,
they collapse and are pushed deeper into the
smaller branches of the vessels that supply blood
to the lungs. Because exercise increases blood
flow to the lungs, it increases the likelihood that
dead worms will block blood flow. This can result
in severe complications and possibly death. The
importance of restricting your dog’s activity cannot
be overemphasized.
PO Box 8266 • Wilmington, DE 19803-8266 • www.heartwormsociety.org